Aug 122014

My goal this year is to blog more. As in, blog almost everyday. The secret to writing better is to write more. Therefore, I am going to write more as practice for writing. It is something I need to do as a professional. Here is to the effort.


I don’t give out the syllabus on day one any more. I used to. It was the regular thing to do so. “Here are my rules. blah blah blah.”

I split it up over several days now, and I start that rigmarole on day 2 instead. Here is a recap of the first day for me this year.

Honestly, it was pretty similar to last year, but better.

AP Statistics:

I gave them this problem which is familiar if you use the Practice of Statistics. That is all they had.



I then asked 2 questions:

1. Is there evidence of hiring discrimination?  We had a discussion.

2. Is there CONVINCING evidence of hiring discrimination? We discussed.

I told them AP Stats was all about moving from question 1 (opinion) to question 2 (fact based examination) and one way to do that is to do a simulation.

Enter the beans. We used a baggie and 25 beans (10 white, 15 black) to simulate the situation. Working in pairs the learners did ten trials and put ten dots on the dot plot.

[aside: last year I hated what my learners did with dot plots. The dots were haphazardly drawn, some small, some large, some to the left, some to the right, there was just no good construction. I was in Target at the end of summer and saw packages of 702 – 1/2 inch big smiley face dots for a dollar. I bought  over 10,000 dots. First day of class we we made AWESOME dotplots!]

This is what they created (1 pic for each period of class):

2014-08-12 12.21.24 2014-08-12 12.21.36 2014-08-12 12.21.30


I made a histogram out of one because they asked what was the difference.  I then led them in a round of vocabulary that can be used on the graph. All in all, a very good day.

Tomorrow opens with this cartoon.

Dilbert - stats vs magical thinking


I hope it sets the tone that the class is about deep thought and working through details, facts and evidence, not opinion.  Now I just have to maintain the tone.


Algebra 2 Honors

Oh, now this class was … different. This class is not happy with me at all. I gave them the handout and said, “Go.”

Cell Phone Project.docx

The project asks them to decide what cell phone plan my wife and I should choose. They were handed chart paper, markers, and the project description.

I only answered a question that was about information in the paper. If they were confused about the content of the plan, I answered that. If they asked about something else, nope.

They were very hostile for a while. When they asked something I typically answered, “There are 4 people in the room who knows what the answer is, 1, 2, 3, and 4.” And I pointed at them when I said the numbers. They needed to start making decisions on their own.

It worked. They get 15 minutes at the start of today’s class to finish.


Some of the learners were not happy with the fact that I was assigning them a project without “one right answer.” It will take a while to break them of that opinion. That is okay, because I have a while with them. The work they did was good. Nothing earth shattering or super impressive, but then again, it is only the first day (and 15 minutes into the second day) of school!

I am really happy with the variety of methods chosen to display the results. That was wonderful. Almost everyone chose T-Mobile as the plan of choice, but it was pointed out that if new phones were required then AT&T or Verizon would be the better choice.

All in all, a great way to start the year. We had a discussion after the presentations of why I assigned it. Comments like “to get us to work together,” “to make us realize that there sometimes can be more than one right answer,” and my favorite was, “because you wanted to make us realize this class would be about us working, not you talking.”

Yea, I liked that one the best.

2014-08-12 15.33.57 2014-08-12 15.34.25 2014-08-12 15.34.57 2014-08-12 15.35.17 2014-08-12 15.35.53 2014-08-12 15.33.27 2014-08-12 15.36.28


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